Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a)

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Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a)

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 16 May 2018, 15:44

As a follow-up to this thread, I have taken a first stab at a writeup of the Blind Auction rules for players and GMs.

This is the version of the rules that operates under the assumption of unique-integer bids. I plan to also present a similar writeup for the system that uses same-value bids and uses overall order as a tiebreaker.

Please let me know what you think.
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Re: Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 16 May 2018, 15:44

PlayDip PbF Blind Auction Procedure
-Based on a system described by Dirk Knemeyer
-Customized by the GMs of the PlayDiplomacy Forums

version 2.0.a, last updated 16 May 2018 by NoPunIn10Did

Introduction

The Blind Auction is a system for describing and resolving conflicts between players' power preferences in an objective manner. It is the default preferred system for power assignments for all Play-by-Forum games, though individual GMs are free to amend it.

Resolving power preferences is not a problem unique to playing Diplomacy. It is a variation on a well-known mathematical problem, called the "Stable marriage problem."


Important Variables

  • U is the number of unique powers in a game.
  • T is the total number of points that each player may bid on all powers.
  • M is the maximum bid that a player may bid on a single power.
  • D is the default bid, assigned on a player's behalf to all powers when they bid "no preference."

Instructions for Players

The GM will announce the start of the Blind Auction shortly after all slots are full for a given game. The GM will grant each player T points to split between the U powers for that game, with a maximum bid of M. These bids will be due at a specified deadline.

How to Bid
  1. Make (or copy) a list of the U powers.
  2. For each power in the list, assign a positive whole number of points to bid.
  3. Bid at least 1 point on every power.
  4. Do not bid any more than M points on a single power.
  5. The total of all bids from a single player must not exceed T points.
    The total of your bids can be lower than T, but this is not recommended.

  6. Each bid must be a unique whole number. No two bids from the same player may be equal.
    Typically, this means you will bid 1 point on your least-favorite power, 2 on your second-least-favorite, 3 on your third-least-favorite, and so on. You are not required to distribute points in this particular manner, but you cannot just assign a bid of 1 to each power you prefer not to play.

  7. Submit this list to the GM by the designated deadline. Players may change and resubmit their bids up until that deadline.
  8. A player whose bids that do not comply with all of the above rules will be automatically assigned a bid of "No Preference" on all powers (see below).
  9. A player that neglects to submit any bids (or a statement of No Preference) prior to the GM's specified deadline may be ejected from the game and replaced.

Bidding No Preference
In lieu of the above described procedure, a player may bid "No Preference". If a player notifies the GM that they are bidding No Preference, the GM will assign D points to each power on the player's behalf.

A bid of No Preference applies to all powers; it may not be done in part. In other words, a player may not allocate points to some powers and then bid "No Preference" to others.

Do Not Discuss Your Bids
Players are forbidden to discuss their bids with any of the other players in the game: this includes bid values, favorite powers, strategy, or even if they are simply choosing "No Preference." This includes both private and public communication.
By design this process is intended to be completely blind and fair. Any knowledge of other players' bids can disrupt that fairness.
After the Blind Auction results are officially announced, this restriction is lifted, since typically the GM will reveal all bids at that time.

Example Bids
The Blind Auction system grants a player some flexibility to use their bids to describe the relative importance of their preferences. While many players will take the "Top-heavy" strategy seen below, some may wish to more evenly distribute their bids.

For these example strategies, there are 10 players, 10 powers, 200 points per player, and a maximum bid of 100.
i.e. U = 10, T = 200, & M = 100
Code: Select all
          Top-heavy   Two-faves  First-&-mix  Any-but-3

1st pick        100          83          100         31
2nd pick         64          81           40         30
3rd pick          8           8           20         29
4th pick          7           7           15         28
5th pick          6           6            8         27
6th pick          5           5            6         25
7th pick          4           4            5         24
8th pick          3           3            3          3
9th pick          2           2            2          2
10th pick         1           1            1          1


Instructions for GMs: Resolving the Auction
  1. When a player submits bids in advance of the deadline, if possible, it is recommended that the GM double-check that the player's bids follow all of the rules stated above. Notify the player if their bids are invalid.
    While some GMs prefer not to do mistake-checking during the game itself as a matter of principle, it is recommended that a GM check a players' bids for mistakes, assuming those bids aren't submitted at the last minute.

  2. Align all players' bids into a UxU table: one row per player, one column per power (or vice-versa).
  3. Determine the power (X) that has received the highest overall bid.
    If there is a tie between multiple powers, use a random number generator to set the order they are resolved. It is rare that this particular order matters, especially when no player bids "No Preference."

  4. Determine the player (Y) with the highest bid for power X. Resolve ties using a random number generator.
    Every bid of equal point value is to be considered equal in resolving the auction. Unlike some versions of this algorithm, the order a bid is listed does not matter.

  5. Assign player Y to power X. Remove/ignore all other players' bids for X for the rest of the auction. Remove/ignore all other bids provided by player Y for the rest of the auction.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until each player has been assigned a power.
  7. Announce all player assignments simultaneously.
    For the sake of transparency and error-checking, it is recommended that the GM also provide a chart all players' bids and the random numbers generated for the tiebreakers.

Recommendations for GMs: Variable Values
  1. T should be a nice round number greater than 2*(U^2).
  2. By custom, for games with no more than 10 powers, T is typically 20*U.
  3. In most cases, M should be about half of T.
  4. In order to make sure players have enough points to work with, make sure that M is considerably less than
    (T-((U^2 - U)/2)
  5. The default value for D is 1.
    This takes a "No Preference" bid at face value, and applicable players will be assigned the least-popular powers.

  6. Alternately D can be set to equal (T/U), assuming that T is divisible by U.
    This method treats "No Preference" bid as a sort of gamble, where there's a reasonable chance the applicable player can be assigned one of the powers of middle-tier popularity.
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Re: Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a

Postby Morg » 16 May 2018, 17:30

I'm still catching up on the issue that you linked to in the first post as this is the first time I've seen it (probably should've been paying more attention, oh well).

Is the text in post two supposed to be the guide to new GMs on how to do a blind auction or is it a proposal of how to standardize the rules regarding blind auctions between GMs. If the former then, although the math based language makes it more precise and clear as to what exactly you mean, it may intimidate and drown new GMs who may struggle to translate it into simple english. If the latter, I have a few hesitations about each proposed solution and I think I'd rather leave it up to GM discretion at this point. I'll explain those hesitations more as I catch up on the issue a bit more (please forgive the delay). Although I do think that there are legitimate issues we can address and fix about the blind auction process (also a delay as I catch up more).
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Re: Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 16 May 2018, 18:06

Morg wrote:Is the text in post two supposed to be the guide to new GMs on how to do a blind auction or is it a proposal of how to standardize the rules regarding blind auctions between GMs.

The text is intended to replace the default rules for blind auctions. Currently, many GMs prefer not to list out all of these rules and procedures; at most they point to an old post by Pedros to explain it. That post is inadequate and ambiguous, but it has become the de facto guide for how Blind Auctions work. The text here is one proposal that would replace that text.

So, specifically...
  1. Yes, it is a guide for new GMs and new players for how a blind auction works.
  2. Yes, it is a proposal to standardize the Blind Auction rules; however, as with all GM house rules, it can be replaced or modified for an individual game as desired by that GM.

Morg wrote:If the former then, although the math based language makes it more precise and clear as to what exactly you mean, it may intimidate and drown new GMs who may struggle to translate it into simple english.

That's a fair criticism, but I'm not sure how best to concisely describe a set of rules that works for variable numbers of players, points, and powers without using some type of algebraic representation. Do you have any more specific thoughts on how to get around this conundrum?

Morg wrote:If the latter, I have a few hesitations about each proposed solution and I think I'd rather leave it up to GM discretion at this point.

It's still going to be up to GM discretion, as it always has been. The problem as it stands now is that GMs often say that they're doing a Blind Auction with X amount of points, maybe linking to this older post, but not realizing the ambiguities and inaccuracy of doing so. Players that haven't participated in such an auction before are likely to miss the subtleties inherent to it, particularly when doing an auction where listed order is used as a tiebreaker.

The specifics of how these default rules should work is still a matter of debate, but there was enthusiastic support from GMs and players for updating the rules and language for the Blind Auction so that GMs have a different resource to point to.
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Re: Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a

Postby GhostEcho » 18 May 2018, 00:56

NoPunIn10Did wrote:
Morg wrote:If the former then, although the math based language makes it more precise and clear as to what exactly you mean, it may intimidate and drown new GMs who may struggle to translate it into simple english.

That's a fair criticism, but I'm not sure how best to concisely describe a set of rules that works for variable numbers of players, points, and powers without using some type of algebraic representation. Do you have any more specific thoughts on how to get around this conundrum?


One thing I've found as a math teacher is that it often helps to accompany the formal definition of a concept with instruction or explanation that sounds "non-technical" - sometimes this helps even if it's actually equally complicated. I think what we want to be thinking of for a resource should really be in three parts:

I. PlayDip blind auction system defined technically
II. Instructions for GMs on how to run a blind auction
III. Instructions for players on how to bid in a blind auction, that any GM can just copy to his informational messages/house rules

Of course writing these "easy user guides" can be a challenge, I may try to draft something like that myself.
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Re: Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a

Postby EpicDim » 25 Jun 2018, 22:42

This proposes that all bids must be unique. However with the No Preference bid you already break that, so if two players both choose no preference you don't have a mechanism to solve that. My recommendation is for unique bidding, No Preference would give a bid of D, D+1, D+2, ... D+U-1 randomly distributed since you already have random choice.

Otherwise you might as well just allow duplicate values since you're allocating based on a random power order anyway, the duplicate values has become a mute issue.
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Re: Proposed Text for the Blind Auction Rules (version 2.0.a

Postby EpicDim » 25 Jun 2018, 23:28

Also in #7 for GMs, I would also announce all random decisions. I have had issues with GMs in the past where those "random" decisions did not feel so random and were not clarified.
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